From the minute the rockin' cast steps onstage in this wonderfully disrespectful, totally silly send-up of this year's most sensational real-life Hollywood murder case to wail "The Tragedy of Bonnie and Blake," we realize this is going to be fun. The tale unfolds in flashbacks right from Bonnie Lee Bakley and Robert Blake's favorite table at Vitello's, but it doesn't just rehash the case we've all heard serialized for months on the nightly news. Many events and characters will be familiar, but there's also a pivotal appearance from Fred, Blake's pet cockatoo from Baretta, who in this script is certainly a jealous little birdie with an agenda of its own. As played by the hilariously deadpanned Vince Cefalu stuck in an outlandish feathered costume, Fred's inclusion, especially to join the rest of the cast to blast Bakley in a lovely little number called "Star F***er," is a stroke of comedic genius.
Molly Benson and the on-the-money Rick Batalla (who also wrote the book and co-wrote the music) give deliciously raucous yet deadly serious performances as the poor doomed Blakes. But as good as Travis Clark, Bob Simpson, and Kate Danley are as multiple characters in the story, the best part of all is the irreverent and infectious music by Batalla and Henry Phillips, who also doubles as music director and leads the well-tuned three-piece combo hiding behind the restaurant's window. The score features continuously side-splitting lyrics, such as a passage in one song that lets the belting Benson compare Bonnie's history of childhood trauma and abuse with that of her husband's, singing that "All my mother's boyfriends were gentle," to which Batalla retorts, "For a while, my ass felt like a rental." Great, isn't it, the things that can be rhymed when someone sets his or her mind to it?
Best of all, we at long last get to find out-in song, no less-who did in poor Bonnie. Yes, you read that right: Her killer is revealed here, and the revelation could rival a case cracked by Sherlock Holmes-but that honor might be better suited to The Cockatoo Whisperer.